U.S. Hits Drone Israel Says Was Launched by Iran-Backed Militia

The United States struck a drone that officials say was launched by Iranian-backed militias for the first time in Syria on Saturday.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman blasted the attack, saying it was an extension of the Assad regime’s, Iran’s and Russia’s “strategic decision to act militarily against Israel”.

The drone was “launched on Friday morning from Syria into southern Israel,” the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement, with witnesses reportedly saying it was an Irbis surveillance drone.

“We responded in self-defense. We return fire when attacked,” the statement said.

“We have seen this sort of behavior before and in many places. Such actions by any party threaten the stability and security of our citizens,” it added.

The drone was shot down after it flew over Israel’s Hatzorot Air Force Base near Tzfat, military sources said.

In January, there were reports of an alleged Iranian drone strike inside Israel. However, an Iranian official said a “national security incident” had taken place.

The regime in Damascus and its allies Moscow and Tehran are major supporters of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Assad regime has vowed to recapture all of Syria, including the entire country, from the militant Islamic State group.

Earlier this month, President Trump said Syria was being “liberated,” reversing his decision to pull U.S. troops out, and took credit for blocking an Iranian drone from entering U.S. airspace.

He said on Twitter that he had called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad himself.

“Another success for my decision to attack the ISIS stronghold in Syria. There was no need to stay. Now we are moving the 30,000 plus troops back home. Very exciting, and we are starting the rebuilding of our country. We hit the big one, the ISIS stronghold, and we have stopped the slaughter. We’ll be starting up the rebuilding immediately,” Trump said.

He added: “Many lives have been saved. Did you see that story and the people that helped it? Many more lives were saved than I ever thought possible. Maybe it’s just me, but I never would have dreamed that our troops would have been so brave, the way they fought the ISIS. There were no challenges to pull our troops out of Syria!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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